From Wired News, available online at:,1294,38014,00.html

Registrar Sues for Whois Spam  
by Joanna Glasner  

4:00 p.m. Aug. 3, 2000 PDT 

In a dispute that could test the legal limits for how of personal
information stored on publicly available websites is used, a domain
name registrar has filed suit against a firm it claims illegally used
its customer contact information in an aggressive marketing campaign
of unsolicited email and phone calls., a New York company that registers Internet domain names,
filed suit this week against Verio Inc., a Colorado website developer
and hosting firm, charging that the company engaged in "unauthorized
commercial use of's Whois database."     

The suit, filed in New York federal court, charges that Verio did not
comply with the rules that and other Internet registrars
set for using its Whois database -- a website that lists phone
numbers, email addresses, and other information about the owners of
domain names.  

Instead of simply getting information about particular sites -- which
is generally allowed -- says Verio compiled massive lists
of new customers and deluged them with unsolicited marketing messages.

"In this particular case, the reason we're taking legal action is we
found it to be a widespread and systematic abuse of the Whois," said spokeswoman Shonna Keogan. began receiving customer complaints in early January,
alleging that Verio was soliciting their customers at both their homes
and at work. officials said they were particularly
concerned because Verio made reference in its sales pitches to the
fact that its prospective new clients had just signed up domain names

"We have made repeated overtures to Verio to resolve this matter
amicably -- highlighting numerous complaints we've received from both
our customers and our partners. Since Verio has chosen to ignore our
requests, we have no alternative than to take legal action in order to
protect our customers from these invasive practices," said Richard
Forman, president and CEO of, in a statement announcing
the suit.  

The suit seeks a court order forcing Verio to stop marketing to customers using contact information in the Whois

Officials at Verio could not be reached for comment.   

Copyright  1994-2000 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved. 

 From Wired News, available online at:,1294,40609,00.html

Judge Blocks Whois Spam  
by Joanna Glasner  

11:00 a.m. Dec. 11, 2000 PST 

A federal judge dealt a significant victory to domain name registrar in a lawsuit against Web hosting firm Verio Inc. over
unauthorized use of data about its customers.  

In a ruling in U.S. District Court in New York City, Judge Barbara
Jones ordered Verio to stop using customer contact information housed
in's Whois database to carry out a massive telephone and
e-mail market campaign.     

In issuing the preliminary injunction, Jones determined that (RCOM) had a significant likelihood of prevailing on its
claims that Verio violated usage policies, made unauthorized
references to in marketing messages, and improperly used
robotic search devices to obtain information on company servers.  

The judge's order prohibits Verio from using data from's
computer networks "to enable the transmission of unsolicited
commercial electronic mail, telephone calls or direct mail." In
addition, Jones ruled that Verio can no longer use robotic searches or
other software applications to pull data from the's

The ruling, handed down Friday, is the latest development in a
four-month-old suit between and Verio that centers on the
issue of setting limits on accessing and using personal information on
publicly availabe online databases.  

The legal standoff started in August, when filed a
lawsuit alleging that Verio engaged in "unauthorized commercial use of's Whois database."  

Although Whois databases, which contain phone numbers, e-mail
addresses and other information about domain name registrants, are
available to the public, registrars place restrictions on their use. charged that Verio breached its usage policy by tapping
into its Whois data to compile massive lists of new customers and
flooding them with marketing messages.  

"There are good reasons for this data to be publicly available," said
Jack Levy,'s general counsel, who said he approves of
using Whois data for tracking down cybersquatters or contacting site
administrators about technical problems. "But these kinds of mass
marketing solicitations are very clearly a violation of our terms of

In her ruling, Jones rejected an argument from Verio that's restrictions should not be enforced because direct mail
and telephone marketing are acceptable uses of Whois data under an
agreement signed with the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers to become a registrar.  

Jones said the agreement with ICANN "creates no right to Verio to
breach its agreement to abide by's terms of use for
accessing its Whois data."  

A Verio spokeswoman said company officials are reviewing the ruling
and have not yet determined what step to take next.  

Levy said still intends to take the case to trial,
although no court date has been set.   

Copyright  1994-2000 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.